How to Get Out of Debt

Financial well-being February 01, 2019 By Lisa Crawford

Did you decide on some ambitious goals and aspirations this year for different areas of your hectic life? As far as Financial Well-Being goes, it's possible that one of your goals was to spend less money and/or get out of debt this year. 

If that’s true, you may be asking yourself, “where in the world do I even get started on trying to get out of debt? It sounded good at the time, but somehow life keeps getting in the way.” There are many other ways we would like to spend our money!

Is there a new pair of shoes, or the newest technology gadget, that seem to be calling your name? How about that new restaurant in town that everyone is raving about? What about a weekend get-away for you and your spouse? If you are like me, rationalizing why I “deserve” all of the things I want is easy. I mean, I work hard for MY money. 

Working harder and longer to live a lifestyle that isn’t debt free should probably be the definition of insanity. You become exhausted, and you start feeling like you are trapped with no way out of the messy financial situation you are in. 

Don’t worry – you CAN escape the insanity AND reach your goal to get out of debt at the same time. According to an article by Dave Ramsey, “25 Ways to Get out of Debt,” there are some great ways to make traction toward your 2018 goal of getting out of debt:

  • Learn to say, “No” – To ourselves, our kids, and other friends and family. The more we learn to say “No” when it comes to spending money, the more money we will have available to pay off debt. This just makes sense!
  • Have a spending plan (aka “budget”) for your hard-earned money – Every month, before the month begins, figure out a plan of where your money needs to go. Once you have a plan, focus on living out that plan, and eliminating some of your debt. 
  • Use your tax refund to pay off debt – It is tempting to buy something you wish you could have with that big tax refund, but hold off! Instead, pay down your debt with your refund. Once you are out of debt, you’ll have the money to save to buy those things you’ve wanted for a long time. Win-Win!
  • Use the envelope system – When you are putting together your spending plan for the month, plan to pay cash for things you tend to overspend on such as groceries, eating out, and fuel. There’s something about paying with cash – you see it and feel it leaving your hands. Honestly, it kind of hurts to see Ben Franklin leaving your possession, right?! Studies show people tend to spend less when paying for something in cash.
  • Start a side gig – Today, more than ever before, technology allows any of us to share products and ideas with others to make extra money. How about finding your creative side and selling your creations online? How about pet sitting your neighbor’s puppy while they are out of town? As the days start warming up, ask friends and neighbors if they could use someone to clean out and organize their garage, or help them with some yard work. The opportunities are endless and are only limited by your imagination. 
  • Sell items online – Again, technology allows us to post our treasures online for all of our friends and neighbors to see. Clean out the closets, drawers, garage, attic, and even under the bed to find things you don’t use or need any longer. You might even like the extra space you now have!

There are many other ways to find extra money and pay more than the minimum payments to help you get out of debt. Once you start down the path to financial freedom by getting out of debt faster, it really can be fun and exciting. You will start seeing the mountain of debt being crushed and you will want to work even faster and harder. 

By all means, get the family in on the fun. Celebrate your milestones and hard work with party hats and sparklers on January 1 of next year when you look back and see that this was the year you changed your family finances for good!

By Lisa Crawford

Financial Well-Being Specialist, First United Bank - Marble Falls

Lisa Crawford has over 15 years of banking experience and works at our Marble Falls location. She graduated from the University of Texas in Tyler with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. Lisa has been blessed in the accounting profession as an oil & gas accountant, and in the banking industry in Texas and Missouri as a Controller, corporate accountant, and financial analyst. 

Lisa’s passion and ministry have been helping and teaching others to become financially free. Now, as a Financial Well-Being Specialist with First United bank, she will be helping employees, customers, businesses, and organizations learn to “spend life wisely.” 

She and her husband of 30+ years have two daughters, one son-in-law, and the two best and most beautiful grandkids in the world.